Islamic Voice
Shaban/Ramadan 1422
November 2001
Volume 15-11 No:179

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Focus on Human Aspect
Training in Self Control

Focus on Human Aspect

The Muslims need to quickly address a tragic aspect of the community’s psyche that bypasses its attention. In a world where human in genuity and creativity is playing the key role, the community still ignores them. Tangible things, the concrete structures, the tall minarets and huge edifices still hold the greater lure for us. It is pathetic yet commonplace to see that a imam of a grand mosque is handed a meagre monthly pay packet even as the management spends hugely on maintaining the chandeliers. It is still a rarity to see a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree holder guiding the upbringing of orphans. Orphanage committees are more concerned about managing Orphanage properties than the future of the orphans. Madrassas raise grandiose buildings but the mudarris (teacher) has to survive on a pittance. Sponsors are easy to be found to fund buildings of Muslim educational institutions but hardly ever anybody comes up to finance retraining programmes for the teachers.

The mohalla committees or Rifahe Aam societies are content with the burial of unclaimed corpses, marrying off destitutes, mass feeding of the poor or organizing mass circumcision camps. Few among us think of conducting workshops on reorienting the religious scholars with skills to lend modern relevance to Friday sermons, imparting skills to widows or destitute to acquire a decent livelihood, setting up businesses for the unemployed youth, or even rehabilitating the disabled in the society. Essentially the focus in all the latter category of activities is on boosting human potential and taking the best out of men and women to ensure the popular weal.

In short, there is an overriding emphasis on structure and exterior while stifling the human soul and body that enlivens the institution. Consequently, most Muslim institutions deteriorate faster, starved as they are of vision, infusion of new energy, retraining of personnel, review of original objectives, dynamism and constant effort at revival of founder’s spirit. Conforming to the original rather than inventing the new and continuity of tradition rather than change are therefore peddled as plus points rather than demerit. Pro-changers are always ridiculed while the traditionalists rule the roost. This smothers the new enterprise and curbs the innovative spirit.

The rise of the countries in the modern West and the Far East solely rests with prime emphasis on Human Resource Development, moulding the character, infusing discipline, tapping human potential, reworking strategies, redrawing objectives, rephrasing methodology constantly reminding the men behind the institutions of the changing ambience and the need to keep pace with times. As a result, traditional Muslim societies present a suffocating environment, demoralizing its people, shedding talents to the developed West, underutilizing its own productive potential and finally espousing a society without direction.

The history bears testimony that nations primarily rise by dint of their human factor and progress on the strength its vitality. If human resources are neglected, institutions decay, civilizations decline and empires vanish. It is time we altered our priorities.


Training in Self Control

Ramadan, the annual orientation course in self control will be visiting us once again. The Muslims are conferred this opportunity once in a year in order to train their nafs (self), lest their whims and fancies overpower them and empty them of the human content. Primarily, fasting is just the form, the exterior. The content lies in integrity that it wants to inculcate within the human beings. Bereft of integrity, Ramadan gets reduced to mere an exercise in controlling desires such as hunger and thirst. But since Allah is not interested in subjecting the people to pain, misery and rigour, the fasting has been endowed with a greater purpose i.e., consciousness of God. If Ramadan fails to instill into us the fear of accountability and responsibility towards the fellow human beings, it would be an exercise in futility.

The Qur’an makes it amply clear that the fasting is the way to develop consciousness of God. But the Hadith amplifies it further. It makes it clear that if one does not stop telling lies and standing by false testimonies, Allah does not require him or her to abstain from food and drinks. Read together, these essentially demand of us a character that does not brook any kind of lies, untruths, falsehood in life. It demands a high degree of integrity, a transparent heart, a mind that is free from warfare between good and evil, an attitude where the eminence of good has already been settled. Ramadan is therefore an exercise in being true to oneself, not merely being honest. It seeks us to be men with integrity, people who stand by their word and bear no iota of deceit against God or anyone even in the remote recesses of their heart. The hunger and the abstinence are therefore the outer form. The real spirit of Ramadan lies in battling against the temptations of the self, keeping the desires under check and seeking return to the righteous path on the faintest hint of succumbing to the demands of the self. Fasting of course, would end with Ramadan. But not integrity and the self control. Islam requires them to stay with us in all areas of our life ongoingly


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